How Wrong I’ve Been
A column written, but not published, the day after Trump’s “election.”
How wrong I’ve been. Wrong about climate change, wrong about the value to our country of immigrants, wrong about the idea that separation protects religious freedom. I’ve been wrong in thinking Americans would reject a lifelong liar and cheat who knows nothing about our Constitution, or foreign affairs, or our system of governance.
I was right, too. The power of the dishonest right-wing propaganda machine can’t be overstated. The ease with which they made it possible to reject facts, ignore lies, consider expertise dangerous, is something I’ve pointed out, repeatedly; my wrongness was in thinking there were enough people able to recognize and reject it.
It’s hard to accept that I live in a country where a minority, who don’t value the things I value, rules: diversity, lending a hand, education, science, protecting the environment, believing our greatness isn’t military power, but the power of our ideas, the potential for success in people of all races, religions, backgrounds. But it’s true, and I’ll have to deal with it.
People who, because of my liberalism, consider me a traitor, have won the day. We’ll see how it plays out, a vengeful narcissist at the head of our government, one who’s promised to use the powers of our government against those who challenge him. (Maybe I should disappear my columns.) He has Congress in his pocket, too; time will tell how he’ll deal with those in his party that didn’t support him. He’s made it clear he’ll go after “enemies.” His past business behavior indicates he will.
I don’t think I’ve been wrong about the horrors that will follow the election of such a man, but since I’ve been wrong about everything else, maybe that, too. There have been times when I’ve thought that if he won it’d finally make clear how wrong he is about what makes our economy strong, and about what makes America strong in the eyes of the world; that Trumpism will disappear. If not, we’re in deep trouble as a nation and as a world. We’ll know soon enough.
Unlike Republican electeds during the Obama years, I accept the results: he won the Electoral College, and that’s how it works. I hope against all likelihood that Donald Trump will either make the effort to become educated on political matters or that he’ll defer, as he’s suggested, to other people while he savors the trappings but not the responsibilities of office; that he’ll abandon deliberate division as the path to maintaining power.
Over the years I’ve told countless patients facing grave illness, let’s work for the best while preparing for the worst. Given the stakes, and unlike Mitch McConnell and his ilk, who wished it for President Obama, I can’t hope for Trump to fail. I have grandchildren. I want them to grow into a world that’s welcoming, safe, unpolluted, with a climate that’s compatible with human life. I want my granddaughter to be valued for who she is, not devalued because of her sex. If either of them turns out to be gay, I want them to live without fear, to have the same rights as the rest of us. I want their schools to teach truth and, because democracy depends on it, empathy.
I don’t want to see our country consumed by hate and fear of people of differing backgrounds. I want science to be valued, religious differences to be respected. So I must hope that the seriousness of his office will find a way into Donald Trump’s selfish heart, and that he or the people to whom he turns over the job won’t turn our country back to the worst of times. Hope is all I have now. Because, as it turns out, I’ve been entirely wrong about who we are.
Update, 4/29/22: I under-predicted the bad. America is now riven by divisions far greater than before he took office, the flames of hate fanned and vote suppression brought to levels at which democracies don’t survive. He listened to crooks, liars, xenophobes, racists, and incompetents. Trumpists in Congress block progress, just to “stick it to libs;” pushing hate, not help. And they’ll be reelected. Marjorie Taylor Greene. What more proof is there?
Caught lying outright, future Speaker Kevin McCarthy still denies he said what he said, on tape! For Republicans, denying reality isn’t disqualifying: it’s required. The Big Lie: gospel. In Ohio, Trump just called for one-day, in-person voting, which would disenfranchise millions.
Their obvious, direct threat to democracy ought to see every Trumpublican voted out, yet the opposite appears likely. Other than spite, what do Trumpists think they’re getting out if it?